Submitted by Richard Bailey
Recent headlines regarding the State of California forcing the City of Coronado to potentially accommodate up to 1,800 more housing units are both alarming and, unfortunately, true. There are few threats to the quality of life we experience in our community greater than the State of California’s heavy-handed housing policies. A top-down policy that forces cities like Coronado, which is already dense and already built out, to increase our housing supply by nearly 20% would forever change the character of our city. Fortunately, the majority of the City Council is pushing back on this outrageous attempt to usurp local control.
Every five to eight years, cities are required to update their housing plans to accommodate new housing production of all income levels; this process is called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). The statewide target is set by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. This statewide number is then spread out over different regions within the state. A local metropolitan planning organization, in our case SANDAG, is then responsible for divvying up the regional numbers to the cities within the region. Although SANDAG had the option to choose a lower housing number for the region, the SANDAG Board voted to approve a housing allocation 47% higher for the region than what was legally required.
The City of Coronado is pushing back on these types of policies. We are actively engaged with the League of California Cities, an association of hundreds of cities throughout California, to advocate for local control and against one-size-fits-all statewide policies. The saying “if you’re not at the table you’re on the menu” is entirely applicable to public policy. This is why, in addition to engaging with the League of California Cities, we have hired a firm to represent our city’s interests in Sacramento on land use policies and other issues.
The methodology to allocate housing considers proximity to job centers, such as Naval Base Coronado, and public transit, but it does not consider current density, available space, or existing military housing. Based on this methodology, the Coronado preliminary number is 1,800 units. Comparatively, Coronado’s RHNA from the 2013-2021 cycle was just 50 units.
If you believe the best decisions are made at the local level, then it is more important than ever before to write to our state representatives, Senator Toni Atkins and Assemblymember Todd Gloria, and encourage them to support policies that protect your voice and respect the uniqueness of each city. In the meantime, we will do everything in our power to fight back against forced densification and protect our quality of life.